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Public participation in development programmes is necessary

With Budget session of 2021 coming to an end, now all eyes will be focused on implementation of the budget proposals, especially the ones relating to urban development. Though some segments of urban development received the rough end of the stick, urban development as a whole has received favourable treatment from the Finance Minister.

With the major focus on infrastructure, Rs.54,581 crore will be provided this year which is 9% higher than the budget of previous year and 16.5% higher than revised budget estimates. In addition, another Rs.7,000 crore for PMAY-U is proposed to be made available i.e., more than Rs.61,000 crore to be made available for urban transformation! In line with Government’s thrust on infrastructure, capital outlay for urban infrastructure of Rs.25,579 crore is proposed to be allocated, which is 22% higher than that of last year. Some interesting projects/programmes are lined up for the current financial year which if successfully implemented may save the people from many hardships.

Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) is proposed to be launched with an outlay of Rs.2.87 lakh crore which is aimed at universal water supply in all 4,378 urban local bodies to be provided with 2.86 crore household tap connections along with liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT cities.

Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 is proposed to be implemented with an outlay of Rs.1.41 lakh crore for the health and well-being of all which is very important especially in view of recent outbreak of the pandemic.

A new scheme is proposed to be launched with an outlay Rs.18,000 crore to induct 20,000 city buses in 5 lakh+ cities for providing an organized city bus service, improved and green urban mobility and ease of living for the citizens. But in the absence of good and wide roads in cities, this plan may not ease the life of an average commuter and instead may only add to the road congestion.

Five new Metro projects in Chennai, Bangalore, Nagpur, Nashik and Kochi at an aggregated cost of around Rs.89,000 crore are proposed to be sanctioned. Further for Tier –II cities and peripheral areas of Tier-I Cities, two new cost effective technologies i.e. MetroLite and MetroNeo will be deployed without compromising quality experience, convenience and safety of passengers which is the hallmark of metro travel. However, most of the Metro projects in the country are running behind the schedule and therefore, there is need for giving equal importance to timely implementation of the project rather than just announcing them.

No doubt, urban development has been receiving higher budget allocation in recent years which is needed also as the pace of urbanisation is picking up in the country. As against a total of Rs.1,58,164crore allocated during 10-year period from 2004-05 to 2013-14, the cumulative budgetary allocations during next eight years i.e., 2014 onwards has been to the tune of Rs.3,90,076 crore. The annual average budgetary allocation during preceding 10 year period was around Rs.15,800 crore which was increased substantially to more than Rs.48,000 crore (inclusive of allocations under Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) i.e. more than 3 times increase!

Despite spending such huge sum there is no qualitative improvement in the life of an ordinary citizen in the last few years. This may be due to selection of wrong programmes, substantial pilferage of allocated resources, faulty implementation of policies, etc. Therefore, it’s always necessary to involve the local population before formulating any programmes to ascertain people’s needs. Otherwise, we will be just pouring the scarce resources down the drain.

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